Artificial “Ends” Can Help Kickstart Success

An image of a blackboard with plans and calendars sketched on it.

It’s my last post of the year!

Well, that’s not entirely true, but for many of us the arrival of Labour Day feels like we’re at the precipice of change. It all comes down to our internal calendars that have been set through years of school.

Though in different parts of North America, some kids have been back to school for weeks, for many of us, summer wound down at the end of August and that meant back-to-school in the first week of September.

For those of us with kids, that cycle perpetuates long after we’ve graduated out of the system.

You can feel it in offices, in retail establishments… in the arrival of pumpkin-spice season -- that sense of something coming to an end, leading to a new beginning.

For many, it’s a great catalyst to make change.

Often we use specific dates as artificial constructs to start a new program or commit to a change. On January 1st, many make New Year’s Resolutions (and, by January 5th, those tend to be out the window). Fiscal Years can also be key dates: in Canada, we can start in January or April; south of the border, you may see Fiscals start in October; in Australia, it’s July. Other people use their birthday -- especially if it’s a “marquee” birthday -- to commit to a new regimen.

And while these dates may seem arbitrary, they do offer us some very tangible benefits. No matter what you’re planning on doing, picking a start date can help you focus your attention, plan in advance, and provide that spark that can ignite success.

Here at Echidna, where we develop strategy using the EOS®, (Entrepreneurial Operating System) method, a new quarter is when we all establish and execute “rocks” upon which we build our business growth. Each quarter, we identify SMART goals that we can achieve in the subsequent three months -- all aligned to our key corporate goals.

How does it help? By providing a fixed time reference, it allows us to focus on executing incremental steps. Those ideas and plans are less likely to be kicked down the road for a future date, when we know there’s a deadline -- artificial as it may be -- staring us in the face. And knowing that a new set of rocks needs to be developed, helps us reflect upon where we are and where we’re going to be.

It’s no different than going back to school. Maybe you’re particularly weak in math, so you’ve committed to improving your grade this semester? How? Well, your tactics can include getting weekly tutoring. Worried about your English marks? Set a goal of reading one course-mandated book every two weeks -- and then schedule the time to make it happen.

Planning doesn’t guarantee success, but it certainly creates an environment in which it can be encouraged.

That said, that’s Tuesday’s problem! This Labour Day weekend, I hope you get the opportunity to finish off the summer in style, with friends, family, and loved ones. Don’t work too hard and make sure you get a chance to recharge those batteries!

After all, a new year starts on Tuesday and we all have goals we want to reach.

Questions Answered

How do I start goal planning

When is Labour Day in Canada?